Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #18 LibraryLove March 21, 2010

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

Book description~ Twenty-nine year old Lindsey Rose has always lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named Creative Vice President of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of 80 plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully-constructed life implodes. Humiliated and desperate, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her prince charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin, while she furtively tries to put her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

Honey on popcorn and the champagne chagrin. Be sure to ’86 the tart lingonberries at the Ikea discount breakfast! From page one I was hooked and couldn’t put this book down.  I literally laughed OUT loud before chapter two! I often criticize books AND movies for not ‘hooking’ me soon enough. I absolutely cannot say that about The Opposite of Me.  I was so jealous of my friends who had a clear schedule to devour this book the day it came out in print. Unfortunately, I had to wait to start this, the book I’ve been waiting since July 2009 to read!!! I was in the middle of reading/reviewing another book when Pekkanen’s debut novel became available in print! Despite my body telling me otherwise, I sacrificed sleep because I could not WAIT to see what happened to Lindsey on her trek back home.

Pekkanen’s novel, The Opposite of Me, is the story of solidarity in family, and how things that separate us, often bring us back to one another, despite our attempts at the contrary.  In the book we follow Lindsey and Alex, two sisters who at first, perceive themselves as complete opposites (hence the title, har har). As the story unfolded, at least for me, it became a tale about two sisters who couldn’t be more similar. Yes, yes, I KNOW that is contrary to the title- it’s called dramatic irony, folks! You have to read to find out 🙂

“Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin?” Lindsey asks. I loved pondering Lindsey’s question as the story unfolded.  I won’t spoil the twists and turns because you will LOVE navigating them on your own. But I loved the rich character development and internal conflict Lindsey dealt with, as she felt like the ugly duckling in the shadows of her stunning sister Alex, until things shifted unexpectedly. Pekkanen does such an artful job of crafting the characters, their struggles, and drawing the reader in with multiple parallels and peaks of rising action throughout the story.  I felt like I was following along on  “Lindsey-cam”  the whole way through, seeing and feeling life through Lindsey’s eyes, as it unfolded for her AND me. I especially cringed/laughed at the OH SO EMBARRASSING scene where Lindsey’s eyes squint open to adjust to the light and standing right in front of her is…Mr. Dunne!! I laughed while simultaneously cringing in embarrassment for her! I cannot IMAGINE how small I would feel in her shoes at that moment!! I especially loved the scene at Tony & Joe’s that Lindsey facilitated for her ‘new friend’. It reminded me of a scene from Pattie Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Loved every moment!

A few of the other highlights for me- Lindsey’s ‘Clark Kent’ quick convenience store changes, going for the Hail Mary w/ the rooftop picnic and its awkwardness setting in, and Lindsey’s magic 8-ball manhunt then stumbling upon some interesting new  information that further cemented Lindsey’s perception that she and Alex really didn’t know each other at all…or did they?

I just HAD to know why the MRI tech was making the sign of the cross,  and cried at the moment of stark florescence of the MVA’s  lights on Alex’s head.  I couldn’t read fast enough, but wanted to pace myself and enjoy each moment. I loved Lindsey’s strength in helping build Alex up. I loved Alex’s strength in helping build Lindsey up.  Right before the reader’s eye, it becomes clear that Lindsey is that brown chipped and painted brick wall of the fixer upper- she’s just waiting for the right person to nurture, restore, and appreciate her. Who knew pizza men could be so dang charming?? 😉

Friends who I recommended this book to were glued to the pages. I received harried texts along the way because the suspense was agonizingly delicious!

I’m sad this book is over and feel the need to share plain bagels and ginger ale with my sister. I am so honored to call such a talented author, Sarah Pekkanen, my friend. She was featured in People magazine with a fantastic review. Jennifer Weiner gave her the ‘Golden Touch’ by being one of her biggest outward supporters. I was bursting with excitement at Sarah’s debut book signing event and after party. I’m just bummed that I have to wait ANOTHER year for her next novel 😉

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookish establishment and buy your copy of The Opposite of Me today! Oh and then take 2-3 days off and clear your calendar so you can read this without interruption! Sarah, cheers to you and all of your success as your book goes back to print after just ONE week! You’re a rock star. I am so thrilled to be on this ride supporting you every step of the way. Three final words: Roadtrip to Philly!

5/5 stars

18 down, 34 to go!

In progress, The Happiness Project